Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Asylum Reviews: Wide Ocean Big Jacket [Switch].

We're always on the lookout for simple, quick-to-play indie games to try out, and Turnfollow's Wide Ocean Big Jacket definitely ticked those boxes for us. It's a short story game comprised of twenty chapters, in which you can play as four different characters: Ben, Mord, Brad and Cloanne.

Ben and Mord are two young teens on a camping trip with Brad and Clo, Mord's Uncle and Aunt. The story follows their camping trip as they learn more about each other, and you can see the young couple's relationship grow, whilst simultaeneously watching the adult's relationship struggles.

The art style is very simplistic and the environments are small enough to not require too much hunting for any and all dialogue options. The game is very text heavy, with all communication written in text on screen. Despite this, it feels very natural rather than forced, and a lot of the humour shows through really well in the dialogue. Entertaining moments such as Mord trying to find a decent pee spot: in the wilderness of the bushes or in an actual toilet, and Brad's awkwardness as he tries to be a good Uncle.

Mord talks a lot, talks about her Aunt and Uncle's relationship, her own relationship with Ben and everything she is curious about, like sex, much to the shock of her Aunt Clo (who she chooses to confide in). This took us a little by surprise too, as we'd figured the game was likely to be very kid-friendly based on the appearance (I know, never judge a book game by the cover), but it was hilariously authentic anyway.

The thing about Wide Ocean Big Jacket is how real everything feels, for such  a simply styled game. The interactions between characters - either with each other, or strangers such as the "Mean Teens" and the anxiety that comes with intimidating or unfamiliar situations just feels very genuine. Mord learns to cartwheel whilst at the beach with Ben and albeit she falls over repeatedly, she improves and eventually pulls off a cartwheel. What we liked about this particular event was that she wasn't then perfectly cartwheeling all over, she still fell over sometimes - whilst Ben sat on the sidelines cheering her on regardless.

It's a strangely charming and heartfelt game, that left me wishing that I had memories of cute camping trips with family. I finished the game feeling hopeful of future titles in this style, and happy with my time spent with the game despite the couple of stuttery moments we encountered along the way. Clipping through the vehicle and getting stuck in certain areas was frustrating, but just a slight inconvenience as luckily they didn't impact the gameplay too much. One funny spelling error had me laughing away, in reference to having mashed potatoes and "pees", but again as this didn't take away from the overall experience, so I don't feel it impacted me too badly.

In the end, we decided to give Wide Ocean Big Jacket the Collecting Asylum rating of 8/10.

Have you played WOBJ yet? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Thanks to Turnfollow for the Wide Ocean Big Jacket Switch review code!

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